On Social

Some people have recently questioned whether "social networking" is some kind of fad. I assert that it is not.

Social spaces have existed around computers since, well, computation started being a going concern.

Considering only since the advent of digital computing, in roughly chronological order, there were hackers hanging around the TX-0 at MIT; email on CTSS; the ability to interactively message users on Multics and most 36- and 16-bit DEC timesharing systems; ARPAnet mailing lists; ITS mail; MM and COMMODE under TOPS-20; /bin/mail; write(1); UUCP and USENET; CP MSG and ADDRESS CMS/MESSAGE under CMS; SEND and PHONE under VMS; BITNET relays and mail; LISTSERV; Internet email; finger; talk(1); /etc/aliases; IRC; the Internet message send protocol; Majordomo; shared whiteboards, text editors, video and audio conferencing on the MBONE; CU-SeeMe; Mailman and ezmlm; web guest books and pageview counters; web forums; sixdegrees.com; friendster; blogs; myspace; facebook; Google+.

Not to mention all the things that happened in smaller, more isolated communities: the WELL, BBS's and their store and forward message networks, etc.

If "social" is a fad, it's one that's been going on for more than fifty years now.

Implementations of these kinds of social spaces may have a faddish or transient quality, but clearly there is enduring power to the underlying idea.